The school choices in Shanghai can be broken down into three categories: international schools, Chinese private schools (or ‘bilingual schools’) and local schools with an international division.
By law, international schools can only accept foreign passport holders. Not beholden to or overseen by China’s Ministry of Education, the pedagogy of these schools is often based on the educational systems and standards of a specific country – whether British, American, German, French or otherwise. Some have a more integrated approach, blending a few different curricular models. International schools typically have the highest tuition and the most international diversity.
Chinese private schools offer a synthesis of Chinese and Western education, accepting both foreign nationals as well as Chinese nationals. Tuition is generally cheaper than international schools and will usually have a stronger Chinese language programme. These schools are privately run and not sponsored by the Government.
Finally, there are local schools that offer international divisions and accept foreign nationals. This is the most affordable option out of the three as tuition is Government subsidised. Expect a much more traditional Chinese approach to education and learning – heavier homework loads, stronger maths and science programmes.